The ‘city’ of Cloyne – developing a medieval Irish town.

 

Cloyne emerging from the mist-JimONeill2

Jim O’Neill’s wonderfully atmostpheric aerial view of Cloyne emerging from the morning mist with the square tower of St Colman’s Catholic Church in the foreground and the Round Tower with the Cathedral in the background. 

There is a tradition that a town with a cathedral is deemed to be a ‘city’ regardless of how small the settlement actually is. Think of the tiny ‘city’ of St David’s in Wales, so well known to the Norman invaders of Ireland in 1169. But we don’t have cross St George’s Channel to experience this phenomenon. We have a native Irish bishop of Cloyne to thank for that designation of….Cloyne! Bishop Daniel O’Finn, who was the bishop of Cloyne between 1247 and 1264, used the phrase ‘…dictam civitatis…’ (..of the said city…) in his Charter of Cloyne. This charter is contained in the Pipe Roll of Cloyne which was assembled in the 1360s by Bishop John of Swaffham. So Cloyne has been deemed a ‘city’ since the middle of the thirteenth century. Indeed the beginnings of this ‘city’ were traced back, in the very same charter, to Bishop David McKelly O’Gilla Patrick (FitzPatrick!), who was the bishop of Cloyne from 1237 until 1238 when he was translated to Cashel. Bishop David granted the first charter to Cloyne a detail we learn from Bishop Daniel’s confirmatory charter which states that ‘…I and my successors will warrant….and we will safeguard to the said citizens and their heirs the aforesaid arrangement of my predecessor…’ So clearly Bishop David had set in train the process of making Cloyne into a proper town. The Charter of Bishop Daniel simply confirmed this arrangement. The intervening bishop, Alan O’Sullivan (1239-1246), seems to have been entirely satisfied by Bishop David’s arrangement, although there is no direct evidence. Bishop David also created Kilmaclenine (near Buttevant) as a borough on the same lines, although that place was never designated a ‘city’.

The Charter of Bishop Daniel also tells us that Bishop David had ‘measured and perambulated’ the north side of the ‘city’. This detail is crucial for it is now clear that the ‘city’ referred to in the charter was actually the ecclesiastical zone around the cathedral and round tower which were located on the southern side of the town.  So the plan of Cloyne with its four streets meeting at a crossroads in the middle of the town was set out by Biship David, and the town must have been developing rapidly at that time. This was an ideal time to develop a new town in Imokilly because the district had calmed down after the MacTire/McCarthy rebellion against the Normans had died out after 1220. The cathedral was probably built at the same time. The town was not laid out on a map, but on the ground itself. This should not surprise us…..if the bishops were Anglo-Normans, but, until the appointment of Nicholas de Effingham in 1284, the bishops of Cloyne all appear to have been native Irishmen and were clearly influenced by the Norman custom of founding towns. Proof of this lies in both the layout of Cloyne and in a fascinating, and very specific, reference in Bishop Daniel’s charter.

First Ordnance Survey Map Cloyne

Cloyne in the first edition Ordnance Survey 6 inch map (about 1842). Note the ecclesiastical zone with the cathedral and round tower making the original ‘city’ and the town planned out by Bishop  David  in 1237-1238 and confirmed by Bishop Daniel around 1250.

Cloyne is laid out around a crossroads with streets leading exactly north, south, east and west. This plan is certainly not an accident. The eastern street (now called Rock Street) is especially wide to accommodate a market. The bishop’s castle (his residence) stood on the south side of this street. Cloyne House, now a private residence, is the more recent successor to the medieval residence of the bishops of Cloyne.

The bishop says that ‘…I and my successors will deal with them (the citizens of Cloyne) honestly according as the laws of Breteuil have been heretofore used or will be used, and the said citizens and their heirs shall be responsible to me and my successors according to the same laws in all things.

Now this reference to Breteuil is both unexpected and crucial. Breteuil, or Breteuil-sur-Noye, is a small town in the Département of Oise in northern Normandy. It has a current (2012) population of about 4,500 inhabitants. Breteuil was founded as a castle about 1060 by William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy (William the Conqueror of England). William gave the castle of Breteuil to his cousin William FitzOsbern, who granted a charter of liberties to the men of the new town that developed there. FizOsbern installed a man called Roger as his castellan and this man’s son came to England in 1066 and was granted vast estates on the Marches (borders) of Wales. Roger the younger succeeded William FitzOsbern as Earl of Hereford in 1071 and set about settling his new lands, including founding towns, such as Hereford itself. The way to attract settlers to these new towns was to give them a generous charter of liberties. Roger had only one model to draw on – the charter of Breteuil, and this became the model for new towns founded in England, Wales and Ireland by the Normans. The charter of Breteuil hasn’t survived, but among the known provisions were: the granting of large burgage plots (town plots); few, and low, fines (feudal custom imposed fines for almost everything!); permission for the townspeople to take wood from the lord’s forest for building and heating. It is also claimed that the custom whereby a serf who managed to flee his master and stay in a town for a year and a day was deemed a free man (and was no longer a serf) was one of the customs of Breteuil, but this is actually uncertain. What is important is that the law of Breteuil was clearly designed to attract settlers, as happened in Cloyne.

breteuil church

An old postcard of the square (place) in Breteuil-sur-Noye.

Bishop Daniel’s charter confirmed the grant to each burgess (townsman) eight acres, in addition to the long thin burgage plots leading off the four streets.’…to have and to hold…freely, quietly, entirely, fully, honourably and peaceably in wood, plains and roads, in paths, meadows and pastures, in moors, marshes and waters…’ This rule applied to the inhabitants ‘…of whatever nation they may be…’  So Cloyne would not discriminate between the Gaelic Irish and the Norman (English, Welsh, Fleming or French). The citizens could take turf from the bog to the south of Cloyne for heating, as much as they required for their household needs.  And all this on payment of a rent of one mark sterling paid half at Easter and half at Michaelmas (29th September). A mark was not a coin but a unit of account worth 160 pence sterling, or 13 shillings and 4 pence or two thirds of a pound sterling (80 pence at Easter and Michaelmas). It’s worth noting that the two townlands located due south of Cloyne are called Commons East and Commons West, and are divided by the road that runs south from the crossroads at the centre of the town.

And Cloyne even had a portreeve, or ‘mayor’ or ‘provost’. He was chosen by a twelve burgesses (citizens of the town) who, presumably, formed a council. In essence, the portreeve and his fellow councillors answered to the bishop for the rents, fines and debts as well as the actions and failures of the townspeople. Did they meet where the courthouse used to sand on Rock Street? This would make sense if the market court or piepouder (pied poudre, French for ‘dusty feet’) court was held there and the market dues were collected there too.

And there is one more piece of evidence for the development of the town of Cloyne in the 1200s. In 1299, the sheriff of Cork submitted a report to the king in which he identified the towns in the county which held a weekly market.  Normally, the market was licensed by the king but, given the slow communications even with Dublin in the 1200s, local lords set up their own markets, presumably with the intention of getting a royal licence at a later stage. Carrigtwohill and Youghal are listed for they each had a royal market licence. However, ‘Midleton’ (actually, Corabbey), Ballinacurra and Cloyne are also listed.  Now this is interesting because these places did not have a royal market licence from the King – in each case a cleric (the abbot in Corabbey and bishop in Cloyne) or the lord of the manor (Ballinacurra), authorised the market. In Corabbey (Midleton) it was the abbot of the Cistercian monastery who set it up, and in Cloyne it was the bishop who authorised the weekly market….right outside his own residence on the present Rock Street! This may actually be a factor of the laws of Breteuil – that the inhabitants could conduct a market on payment of a fee to the lord of the manor.

Cloyne sth side

The original ‘city’ of Cloyne consisted of the ecclesiastical zone of the cathedral and the much earlier round tower. This was the site of the monastery founded by St Colman before 600 AD.

So, there you have it – Cloyne was a ‘city’ and burgary, or borough, in the 1200s. And it was developed by the Gaelic Irish bishops and was run according to the laws and customs of a town in….Normandy. I seem to recall that the late Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe once wrote that ‘Imokilly is the Normandy of Ireland’. She was referring to the rich farmland, agricultural produce and fresh fish from Ballycotton (all we’re missing is the cider!) …. but little did she realise how remarkably true that was on her very own doorstep!

Advertisements

The Bloody Hounds – a public lecture on the Fitzgeralds of Imokilly

The latest public lecture in Midleton Library will be a survey of the history of the Fitzgeralds of Imokilly from 1177 to the early 20th century.

It will cover the early Fitzgeralds in Imokilly to the 1280s, the intervention of the 4th Earl of Desmond in the 1300s, and arrival of Sir Maurice Fitzgerald. Knight of Kerry, before 1400 followed by the arrival of his sons in the decades following. The Seneschals of Imokilly have a starring role as does the Elizabethan loyalist Dean of Cloyne, Sir John FitzEdmund Fitzgerald of Ballymaloe. The lecture will then follow the fortunes of the Fitzgeralds of Ballycrenane and of Corkbeg – the latter being the last of the Fitzgeralds descended from Sir Maurice to have kept their estates in the area.

The lecture will take place on Saturday 28th May at 12.00 noon.

It’s free and all are welcome!

 

Tony Poster

‘A good market for flesh…..and fish.’ Heritage Week 2015 in Midleton.

https://i1.wp.com/www.heritageweek.ie/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/NHW-2015-Logo.jpg

I thought the opening words of the title would get your attention!  This year’s Heritage Week is almost upon us. Starting on Saturday 22 August and running to Sunday 30 August, Heritage Week 2015 has our industrial heritage as its theme. I’ve expanded this slightly to include Midleton’s commercial history as well as its industrial history. It should be noted that I’m including Ballinacorra in this – because we simply cannot talk about the industrial and commericial heritage of Midleton without reference to the port at Ballinacorra. I hope people will take the time to attend something during the week or, at least, visit a heritage site.

In co-operation with Midleton Public Library and MyPlace the following events have been organized in Midleton:

Sunday 23 August: Walking Tour – Discover Midleton’s Commercial and Industrial Heritage. Meet at Midleton Library, starting at 2.30 pm. Guide: Tony Harpur.

Wednesday 26 August: A good market for flesh….and fish.’ The commercial and industrial history of Midleton and Ballinacorra. 1608-1948. Public lecture in Midleton Public Library. Time: 2.00 pm. Speaker: Tony Harpur.

Thursday 27 August: A Heritage Week Extra! From Mainistir na Corann to Midleton. 1177-1670. Public lecture at MyPlace Midleton. Time: 8.00 pm sharp. Speaker: Tony Harpur.

Sunday 30 August: Walking Tour – Discover Midleton’s Commercial and Industrial Heritage. Meet at Midleton Library, starting at 2.30 pm. Guide: Tony Harpur.

Main Street, Midleton, around 1900.

The parking on Main Street, Midleton hasn’t changed much in over a hundred years!

Other events in the East Cork area worth visiting:

Saturday 22 August: Discover Cloyne Cathedral. The cathedral is open from 11.00 am to 4.00  pm. Tours: 11.30 am and 2.30 pm..Free event.

Saturday 22 August and Sunday 23 August: Mrs Kevin’s Cat! A family living history event – join the search for Mrs Kevin’s lost cat in Fota House. Time: 12.00 noon to 14.00 pm.

Sunday 23 August: Youghal Medieval Festival. Family event. Venue: St Mary’s College gardens. Time: 12.00 noon to 6.00 pm.

Wednesday 26 August: Why can’t I find my ancestors? Genealogy event in Cork County Library HQ, Carrigrohane Road, Cork. Time: 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm.   Note: one to one genealogy sessions are also available that week in the same venue. Times: Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. & (NB) Wednesday 9.30 pm to 12.00.*

Sunday 30 August: History Hunt in Cloyne Cathedral. Family event. Time: 2.30 pm to 5.00 pm.

Other events for National Heritage Week 2015 can be found on http://www.heritageweek.ie or on the County Heritage Service webpage: http://www.corkcoco.ie/co/pdf/609621658.pdf. You can also pick up a booklet or leaflet in any local library branch.

Did Dermot Mac Murrough set sail from East Cork to bring the Normans to Ireland?

dermot_mcmurrough

Archtraitor or just another twelfth century Irish politician? This medieval image is thought to represent Diarmait Mac Murchada, King of Leinster – the man who brought the ‘English’ into Ireiand.

Diarmait MacMurchada (also known as Dermot MacMurrough) is a name perennially linked to treason in Ireland – although it’s a bit rich considering the propensity of medieval Irish kings to betray almost any agreement made in good faith!  But what blackens MacMurchada’s name for most Irish people was his decision to seek aid from King Henry II of England to recover his Kingdom of Leinster, particularly his direct patrimony of Ui Cinnsealagh (the area now covered by the dioceses of Leighlin and Ferns – essentially Counties Carlow and Wexford).  But most people in Ireland interpret this to mean that MacMurchada brought the English into Ireland in 1169, and so began eight centuries of trouble here. In reality Ireland was politically troubled before the events of 1169 – and there was no guarantee that this would end any time soon. Modern Irish historians now recognize that Mac Murchada was doing exactly what any Irish king might attempt – seek help to regain his kingdom and get revenge on his enemies.  An Anglo-Norman takeover of Ireland was almost certainly not on the agenda.  It is likely that Mac Murchada behaved like any modern politician and lied about some things.  Besides, Henry owed Mac Murchada, for the King of England had hired mercenaries from MacMurchada to put down rebellion in Wales.

But what has an exiled king from County Wexford got to do with South East Cork?  Well, MacMurchada may have sailed from the mouth of the Dissour River (just north of Ballymacoda) to seek aid from King Henry II!  I came across this when looking for something else…..and, as you can imagine, my jaw dropped. Ballymacoda is a long way from South Wexford – and was an even longer journey in the middle of the twelfth century!  I’d better give a short synopsis of the events leading up to this departure.

Diarmait Mac Murchada was born around 1110 as the son of Donnchad Mac Murchada, King of Leinster. Diarmait was descended from Brian Boru through his father’s grandmother. When Diarmait was about five, his father was killed by his own cousin, Sitric Silkbeard, King of Dublin (he was an Irish Viking, to put it crudely). Donnchad was buried in a grave with a dead dog for company – an insult the Mac Murchadas never forgave. This incident gives you a flavour of Irish politics at the time.

Baltinglass Abbey

Diarmait Mac Murchada founded Baltinglass Abbey,Co Wicklow, for the Cistercians in 1148 – only a couple of years after the order had arrived in Ireland to found Mellifont Abbey. Diarmait was considered by churchmen to be a modernizing reformer, and was held in high regard by them.

On the death of his brother, Diarmait unexpectedly became King of Leinster. He seems to have been a somewhat schizophrenic ruler.  On the one hand he gave generously to the church, supporting reforms and founding new monasteries and nunneries (ironically, this seems to have been a speciality of his). However Diarmait was also seen by many as a ruthless tyrant – although this seems to have been the norm at the time.  Gerald de Barri (better known as Giraldus Cambrensis) who visited Ireland in 1185 to discover what his cousins the Barrys were up to wrote of Diarmait that he preferred to be feared rather than loved and that he didn’t respect his noblemen, preferring to promote men of low birth (presumably on merit). ‘He was a tyrant to his own subjects……his hand was against every man, and every man’s hand was against him.’  And so it turned out, for Diarmait had abducted, Dervogilla, the wife of Tiernan O’Rourke (perhaps with the woman’s connivance). O’Rourke was the King of Breffny (in modern Sligo and Leitrim) and he appealed to his overlord and ally Rory O’Connor, King of Connacht and High King of Ireland, who led an attack on Diarmait that did such huge damage in Leinster that his own people seem to have revolted against Diarmait.  Indeed so endangered was his life, that Diarmait had to flee disguised as a monk.  He took ship to Bristol to seek out King Henry in 1166.

nunschurch500

Dervogilla, the woman whose abduction caused all the trouble for Diarmait Mac Murchada, later founded the lovely Nun’s Church in Clonmacnoise. The church may have been inspired by the fine church architecture commissioned by her abductor!

But where exactly did Diarmait find his ship?  Prompted by a recent visit to Youghal, Goddard Orpen, a wonderful historian of medieval Ireland, suggested in a note published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland in 1903 that Diarmait took ship from a place called Corkeran.  He based this idea on lines from a poem composed in Norman French shortly after the events of the so-called ‘Norman invasion of Ireland. The poem called The Song of Dermot and the Earl tells us that:

‘Quant fut li reis exule, A Korkeran (est) eschippe, A Corceran en mer entra, Awelaf Okinead od se mena.’

When the king was exiled, to Corceran he escaped, at Corceran he entered the sea, Olaf O’Cineadha gave him aid’ (my translation)

Orpen identifies the place called Korkeran/Corceran as Gort Corceran which is located just east of Ladysbridge, north of the road to Ballymacoda.  There is an error in Orpen’s account – he says it is near the mouth of the Dissour River – true, but it is actually on the Womanagh River, which flows into the Dissour just a short distance to the north.  Perhaps Olaf O’Cineadha was living in Gort Corceran and he arranged the ship.  This man’s Norse-Irish name is interesting and suggests strong intermarriage over the generations between the various Norse settlers in Dublin, Wexford, Waterford and Cork with the native Irish.  Given that one of the parishes in the city of Waterford was named for St Olaf – it’s possible that Olaf O’Cineadha had connections there.  Whatever the reason, it is clear that the two men knew each other – did Olaf supply ships to take Diarmait’s men to Wales to assist Henry II some years earlier?

It has to be admitted that Orpen’s suggestion was greeted with horror by William Henry Grattan Flood in 1904. (Pity the poor man. With that moniker, he had a lot to live up to – named for two celebrated eighteenth century Irish parliamentarians Henry Grattan and Henry Flood!)  Grattan Flood insisted that Diarmait left from County Wexford – specifically from Corkerry near New Ross, on the banks of the Barrow in County Wexford.  On the surface this looks good – it was in Diarmait’s home territory. But it also entailed a long trip down the River Barrow passing Waterford – a place with no love to Diarmait.

Orpen’s response is firm – he quotes the Song of Dermot and the Earl to say that MacMurchada was driven out by his own people, a detail supported by other evidence from the time. Diarmait was so hounded by his enemies that he had to disguise himself as a monk in order to escape – it suggests the man had a serious popularity deficit, as we would say today. To get a flavour of the vicious nature of Irish politics at the time consider a detail revealed by Dagmar O’Riain-Raedel.  She recounts the horrific tale of two rival Irish kings being finally persuaded by the Bishop of Lismore to make a solemn peace with oaths sworn on relics in the cathedral of Lismore.  The two rivals duly obliged the bishop.  But as soon as they stepped outside the door of the cathedral, having sworn their solemn oaths, one man promptly buried his battle axe in the head of the other.  So much for a binding oath to keep the peace in twelfth century Ireland!  At least the murderer had the courtesy to wait until he was outside the church before doing the dastardly deed – unlike the Anglo-French knights who murdered Archbishop Thomas Beckett in Canterbury a decade or so later! (Sadly twenty-first century Ireland got a taste of this twelfth century behaviour during the week when gunmen killed a wedding guest the door of a church in Enniskillen as he was about to attend the nuptials – tradition can be wonderful, but some traditions deserve to be firmly consigned to the dustbin of history.)  The brutal murder at Lismore suggests that Diarmait Mac Murchada was in very real personal danger of assassination or murder.  Hence his flight from Ui Cinnsealagh.  According to Orpen, the nearest point where Diarmait could have safely taken ship for England was in East Cork, specifically Youghal (which probably didn’t exist as a town at the time), or Imokilly barony in East Cork.  The townland of Gort Corceran is near the middle of Imokilly – and Orpen had already noted the name and location on the Ordnance Survey map of the area.

Medieval irish axemen

How to resolve a political dispute in twelfth century Ireland. This illustration may refer to the brutal murder at Lismore cathedral and gives a hint of the personal danger that Diarmait Mac Murchada faced when he was defeated by O’Connor and O’Rourke.

However there are a couple of details that neither Orpen nor Grattan Flood addressed.  The Dissour empties into Youghal Bay, as does the River Blackwater.  The Blackwater leads to Lismore, site of the monastic foundation of St Carthage and a place with a long continental connection, as well as being the site of that vicious axe-job!  At the time, the Bishop of Lismore was Gilla Crist Ua Connairche, called Christianus in Latin.  He was also the Papal Legate in Ireland, so much business pertaining to the Irish church was conducted by shipping passengers, pilgrims and messages from Youghal Bay.  As a king with an interest in church reform, Diarmait might have been given a warm welcome by the clergy of the area – including the Papal Legate and the Bishop of Cloyne.  Indeed, Diarmait’s flight may have been assisted by churchmen – which very likely explains the monkish disguise he adopted.  Also, it should be noted that Gort Corceran is just a few miles from Cloyne.

lismorelarge2

The Cathedral of St Carthage in Lismore, County Waterford, is a medieval structure with much later rebuilding, especially in the early nineteenth century. It is delightfully situated across from the castle gardens. Lismore was the seat of the Papal Legate in the lifetime of Diarmait Mac Murchada. An infamous murder was committed just outside the door of the cathedral in the twelfth century – one king murdered his rival moments after they had sworn an oath inside to keep the peace. Politics, twelfth century Irish style.

To make matters even more interesting, the Dissour river flows through Killeagh, just north of Gort Corceran – and Killeagh was originally the cell or monastery of St Ia (NOT St Abban!).  St Ia gives her name to St Ives in Cornwall as well as sites in Brittany – suggesting a long history of communication between Killeagh area and foreign shores.  In addition it seems that the first two bishops of the restored diocese of Cloyne may have come from the Irish monastery in Regensburg in Germany.  With these overseas connections, the idea of Diarmait Mac Murchada taking ship from Youghal Bay, even from the mouth of the Dissour, makes sense. The idea is reinforced by the fact that the Anglo-Normans later founded an important manor and castle at Inchiquin – right on the banks of the Dissour.  This allowed them to get supplies directly from England if required. If the bishop of Cloyne was involved in Mac Murchada’s flight, it is possible that Diarmait might have embarked from Ballycotton – a settlement controlled directly by the bishop and a significant harbour at the time (see my previous previous post on Ballycotton).

inchiquin castle

The thirteenth century juliet or round keep of Inchiquin Castle on the banks of the Dissour River. Curiously, the Manor or Seigniory of Inchiquin remained effectively outside the control of the Sheriff of Cork for many centuries. The FitzGeralds were the first to hold the manor.

I suspect the jury is still out on Orpen’s suggestion – but it is worth further investigation.  Recently, I met Paul Mac Cotter, who wrote the History of the Medieval Diocese of Cloyne, and he said that there were many connections between Wexford, especially south Wexford, and Imokilly in the thirteenth century, shortly after the Anglo Normans settled the place. Perhaps these connections went back to Diarmait Mac Murchada in 1166!

capel_island

Capel Island off Knockadoon Head marks the southern end of Youghal Bay and is close to the mouth of the Dissour River. Named after the de Capella family, an Anglo-Norman family who settled in Imokilly around 1200, it may have been one of the last sights of Ireland seen by Diarmait Mac Murchada as he went to seek aid from King Henry of England. The de Capella family are known today as the Supple family.

One thing is clear though – without Diarmait’s trip to see Henry II there would be no FitzGeralds, Butlers, Burkes, FitzMaurices, Supples, Cods, Roches or even Harpurs in Ireland! I’ll update you if I get further information that can shed light in favour of, or against, Orpen’s idea.

There is a delightful irony in the fact that William Henry Grattan Flood was born not far from the Dissour River – in Lismore actually. He even spent much of his life in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, as a church organist – right in the heart of Diarmait Mac Murchada’s home territory!  This is the man who preserved and published the Wexford Carol – the finest of the native Irish Christmas carols! For that alone we can happily forgive him for his peeved response to Orpen’s suggestion about Diarmait’ Mac Murchada’s flight from Ireland.

.

Images of Cloyne Cathedral.

Ooops!  Silly me!  I really should add some colour to this blog – so, as a bonus, I want to show some images of St Colman’s Cathedral in Cloyne to illustrate what I said in my previous blog.

Cloyne Cathedral is a thirteenth century building (1201-1300) with later amendments (east window and western facade). We don’t know which bishop built it but its location is very precisely related to the Round Tower across the road – this was the original belfry of Cloyne.  Forget that stuff about monks taking refuge there from the Vikings – round towers make excellent chimneys so the monks would have risked asphyxiation if the uninvited guests lit a fire at the foot of the tower!    The first image shows the cathedral from the north with the high triple lancet windows of the north transept facing us.  The chancel is on the left with the vestry protruding northwards, and the nave and aisles are on the right.  There is a debate as to whether the cathedral had a central tower, the join in the roof between the nave and chancel suggest this, but there is no such evidence on the interior. In fact, given that the Round Tower was used as a belfry into the twentieth century, why would they have bothered with a central crossing tower?

Cloyne Cathedral from the North

Cloyne Cathedral from the North

The Round Tower at Cloyne was actually built over a thousand years ago to house a bell – the locals called it a cloigteach into the 18th century – cloigteach means a bell-house, or in Italian, campanile!   It even leans a couple of centimeters out of vertical despite being over thirty meters tall – it lost a couple of meters when the conical cap was struck by lightening in the eighteenth century.

Cloyne Round Tower General

The third image is a general overview of Cloyne Cathedral taken from the top of the Round Tower – the image is a few years old because those fields in the background are now filled with houses.  Note the cruciform shape and the proximity to the road as well as the odd positioning of the gate – this gate faces the door of the Round Tower.

Cloyne Cathedral Overhead

The interior is remarkably simple, some would say bare, but I love it because it reminds me of the best Cistercian architecture.  Mind you Cloyne wasn’t built by the Cistercians, it was strictly a secular, that is to say diocesan, establishment.  The nave is empty of seating (as it was in the medieval period) and is now used mainly for concerts.  The Chancel is now the functioning church, but originally the laity would never have been admitted beyond the tall arch at the east end of the nave.  Indeed this arch would have been blocked by a painted and sculpted wooden screen with a crucifix above it.

Cloyne Nave General

The Chancel is laid out in ‘cathedral form’ as we say in Ireland – that is, while some pews at the western end face towards the altar, most of the seating follows the antiphonal arrangement of medieval choirs.  Antiphonal means that the seats face each other – one side can sing one verse, and the other side can sing the next verse, and so on.  The furnishings, roof and stained glass are all nineteenth century.

Cloyne Cathedral Chancel

 

In the north transept is a magnificent Renaissance tomb built for Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald, Dean of Cloyne.  He was the illegitimate son of the previous dean, Edmund FitzGerald, and there is no evidence that Sir John was even ordained!  Despite the fact that he remained a Catholic until his death in 1612, Sir John was a loyal subject of Queen Elizabeth I – how do you think he became SIR JOHN?  He was knighted on Elizabeth’s orders and he used that fact to his advantage.  He looted the church lands by giving estates to his own sons, and he even managed to keep the Protestants out of the cathedral until his death! Frankly, he was one of the biggest crooks in sixteenth century Ireland!   I’ll come back to him in a later post.  However, Sir John FitzEdmund FitzGerald’s tomb deserves a mention, for it is one of the great renaissance treasures of Ireland, yet is virtually unknown!   This large tomb of polished limestone is topped by a  huge slab of red (Midleton?) marble – the biggest I’ve ever seen.  The front of the tomb is decorated with panels representing military trophies, clearly copied from a print.

Fitzgerald Tomb Cloyne

The stones on top of the red marble slab are the remains of sculpted figures that stood on the tomb, and they are all shown dressed in armour. There isn’t a cleric among them.  No evidence whatsoever of any religious feeling intrudes into the tomb of this Dean of Cloyne!

 

Irish Genealogy and Finding Places.

Cloyne Cathedral

Cloyne Cathedral

Since my last post the autumn has hit us with a bang!  Literally!  We had a thunderstorm on Wednesday of last week (8th October). The storm lasted the whole afternoon and our internet connection went!  (Doh!) Finally, eight days later, we’re back online!  The thunderstorm was the latest in a series of downpours and delayed equinoxal storms that make us appreciate any calm, warm, sunny weather we get from now until winter sets in.  Really, we were spoiled by the long, warm, dry summer this year.  And the plants are still growing!  In the middle of October!  We’ll have a splendid leaf show in the next couple of weeks – if any gales don’t blow  the leaves away.

The Family History Course that I am presenting is going well – I’m trying to keep it practical, with a workshop and case study element.  This is, I believe, what people doing family history/genealogy really want.  It can be a lonely business when tracking your ancestors and I would encourage people to join organisations like the Cork Genealogical Society (of which I’m a member).

Last Friday (10th October) I visited Cloyne Cathedral to examine something there at the invitation of a member of the Cathedral Vestry.  This is a lovely, small, cathedral set in a pleasant little town or village in lovely countryside.  Most medieval Irish cathedrals were small – we had too many dioceses with too few resources to build on the scale of English or Continental cathedrals.   The charm of St Colman’s Cathedral is that is looks like a large parish church, but does not soar above the small town of Cloyne – that is the privilege of the older round tower, situated just across the road from the cathedral.   I hadn’t been to the cathedral for some years and had actually forgotten its homely and charming atmosphere.  The very small Church of Ireland (Anglican/Episcopalian) congregation and the Friends of Cloyne Cathedral struggle manfully to keep this gem intact.  The philosopher George Berkeley was the bishop here in the eighteenth century, and his memory is still cherished locally because of his generosity to the poor.  Berkeley College in California is named for him, as are a number of other US educational institions.

Cloyne Cathedral from the north

Cloyne Cathedral from the north

Cloyne is nowadays given the Irish name Cluain on road signs, but it should really be Cluain Uamha – the ‘meadow of the caves,’ a name it had long before modern road signs came into use. Cluain Uamha refers to the caves that penetrate the limestone on which the town stands.  Near Dublin is a place called Clontarf where exactly a millennium ago an army of Irish (mostly from Munster) with Viking allies crushed an army of Vikings (Dublin, Isle of Man and Norway with some from Denmark) with their Irish allies (from Leinster).  The battle was fought on Good Friday 1014 and that date is, like 1690, 1798 and 1916, one of the more popularly remembered dates in Irish history.  Clontarf, is derived from Cluain Tarbh, appropriately, ‘the meadow of bulls.’

One of the questions raised by those researching their Irish ancestors is this subject of place-names.  In Ireland this seems tricky, but when I eventually explain it, believe me it will seem very clear.  Let me give you an example from my tour of Midleton during Heritage Week in August.  There is a street in Midleton called Brodrick Street (the street sign says Broderick – but that’s wrong!  There is no ‘e‘ in Brodrick!)  Yet in Midleton, the locals refer to ithis street as the Coolbawn!  Until very recently this latter name did not appear on any map – but the building of Coolbawn Court (a square of houses at the end of the street) put it on the map.  What’s going on?   Coolbawn is derived from two Irish words cul meaning ‘back’ and ban meaning ‘white’ or ‘meadow between two streams’ (perhaps the latter meaning is derived from the white flowers of the meadowsweet herb?).  But culbhain can also mean, more precisely, a watermeadow.  And the Coolbawn in Midleton is indeed located between the Roxborough or Dungourney River on the south and the Owenacurra River (abhainn na corra – river of the weir) on the west.  The other boundaries are the Main Street on the east and the south wall of St John the Baptist’s churchyard on the north.  As you can imagine, the group was intrigued by my explanation that Brodrick Street was a street built in an area called the Cooibawn but it was not actually the Coolbawn itself. Attempts some years ago to change the name of the street to ‘Coolbawn’ were simply incorrect.  Note that I used the definite article when discussing the Coolbawn – because the name is also a description of a place and the area does flood in very high tides when the wind is blowing from the wrong direction!

And before anybody gets too excited – the Coolbawn is NOT a townland (in Midleton, at least!)…..which will bring on the subject of our next post!    To keep you amused until then you may wish to consider the following terms: ploughland, townland, civil parish, parish (and no, they are not exactly the same!), union (as in Poor Law Union), district electoral division (DED), barony, riding (those from Yorkshire should get that one!), county, diocese, province, and (for good measure) we’ll add in: borough (with its appendage corporation) and manor.  All of the above were ways of dividing up the land of Ireland and locating a place very precisely within it.

The system had its charms but it worked – you really couldn’t get lost, at least not until the advent of the late, and unlamented, Celtic Tiger, which unloosed a rash of ‘development’ in the country.  I blame the property developers. They had us bamboozled with very strange placenames and addresses!  Sadly the Irish government is now compounding the problem by spending about 25 million Euro on introducing a nationwide postcode system that apparently doesn’t work!  Not very charming, in my opinion.

More soon – if I don’t get lost in the post!

Continue reading

A Busy September

September was an interesting month, which included setting up material for an adult education course I’m now delivering in St Colman’s Community College in Midleton.  Researching Family History takes place every Wednesday evening from 7.30 pm to 9.30pm.  It’s a nice class of ten from beginners to fairly advanced students.  The course is a practical but intensive six weeks of work and last night was the first session.

On Saturday 13th September we had a wonderfully warm and bright sunny day for the Midleton Food and Drink Festival, with the Main Street closed to traffic and given over to pedestrians and a mouth-watering selection of food stalls.  A member of the Red Cross told me that some people had even passed out in the heat!  In SEPTEMBER!  Surely not!  (Note: we’ve actually had an ‘absolute drought’ in September, according to Met Eireann!)  It seems a pity that nobody in Midleton was aware of Dr Charles Smith’s comment of 1749 that Midleton was even then a ‘good market for flesh and fish.’  Vegetables were well down the pecking order in those days!  (Pun intended!)

That was followed by a lecture I gave to the Cloyne Literary & Historical Society – the opening lecture of their Autumn/Winter season on the topic of Bishop Cornelius O’Dea’s mitre and crozier of 1418 in Limerick.  A few days later came the Youghal Celebrates History Conference 2014 – ‘A Circle of Friends.’  This celebrated the Quakers of Youghal and Cork.  This was a two day affair, with an international attendance, which included a trip to the Ballymaloe Cookery School at Kinoith House and a look at Shanagarry Castle,  This was William Penn’s Irish estate before he obtained permission to colonise Pennsylvania.  (Penn also owned the townland of Knockgriffin in Midleton.)

Sunday, 21st September, saw the All Ireland Senior Football Championship Final between Donegal and Kerry – which the Kingdom (Kerry) won by superb play.   I watched it in the company of a Kerryman – which added to the excitement!

That was then followed last Saturday, 27th September, with a conservation and archives workshop in University College Cork held by the Cork Decorative and Fine Arts Society.  After which we decamped to watch the replay of the Hurling Final between Kilkenny and Tipperary.  This time, quality showed up – Kilkenny won in fine style.

Our splendid summer is over, and our Indian summer may be a thing of the past as the weather has broken and is becoming more unsettled.  Ah well – we had a good run and the ground has been parched for want of moisture. (A very Irish way of putting it!) The leaves are beginning to assume their autumn raiment and we could just be on the verge of getting a splendid show of colour to see us into Halloween.

The local authority has just put up two signs on the main approaches to Midleton giving two dates of major importance to Midleton.  The first date commemorates the foundation of the Cistercian abbey in 1180, giving rise to the ancient Irish name Mainistir na Corann (Monastery of the Weir), and the other date commemorates the granting of a charter to create the borough of Midleton in 1670.  Of course King Charles II couldn’t spell – he left out the second letter ‘d’ in the new name of the town!  Hence, Midleton with one ‘d’!  By royal appointment!